In this episode of the Modern War Institute podcast, MWI editorial director John Amble speaks to Dr. Russell Glenn, a senior adviser for plans and policy to the deputy chief of staff, G-2, of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. Dr. Glenn has spent nearly twenty-five years studying the city as a battlefield. During this conversation, he discusses the challenges it poses and what the US military should be doing to prepare to operate effectively in dense urban terrain in the future.
Dr. Glenn highlights the unique tactical challenges presented by cities: “Every window, every balcony, every manhole cover, every doorway, every corner in a street is a possible firing position.” But he also argues convincingly that, equally, we need to be thinking about the difficult operational and strategic challenges presented by the density of people and structures. “Operating in a rural area,” he explains, “is like having three colored balls on a pool table . . . and you strike the cue ball. Chances are it may never touch anything else. Operating in a city . . . is like having seven racks of the colored balls on the table and you strike the cue ball, and you have no idea what the ultimate consequences are going to be when they all start to impact each other.”
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Image credit: Sgt. 1st Class Rosario G. Urquieta, US Army